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Senate considers mostly symbolic ideas on school safety

Once again, see if you can tell what’s missing from this discussion.

Nearly three weeks after a shooter killed 10 people at a high school southeast of Houston, lawmakers gathered at the Texas Capitol on Monday to discuss new school safety measures that might prevent another tragedy — and stopped short of rallying behind ideas like adding metal detectors to schools or updating school architecture.

“It’s going to be very difficult to stop every incident,” said state Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, discussing the variety of situations in which students could be harmed.

Monday’s meeting came after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, created the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools & School Security to study ways to limit violence in Texas public schools before they reopen in August. Prior to those orders, Abbott had released a 40-page school safety plan with dozens of proposals of his own in response to the shooting at Santa Fe High School.

Lawmakers studied many of Abbott’s ideas Monday, including ensuring that teachers are trained through Mental Health First Aid, a day-long course that trains individuals on how to spot and respond to mental illness and substance abuse. State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, said around 25,000 school staff members in Texas have already been trained through the program.

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In addition to metal detectors, lawmakers discussed designing schools to prevent threats, like by keeping administrative offices at the front of schools. Legislators also briefly discussed monitoring cameras, limiting school access points and improving locks.

It’s better than blaming everything on doors and video games, but not much more productive. I will take all the usual mutterings about mental health seriously when there’s a real proposal on the table to expand Medicaid, since expanding Medicaid will be by far the single most effective thing we can do to actually help many of the people who have mental health issues in Texas. As for the rest of it, I’m sure they could have some marginal benefit, but it all has the feel to me of talking about installing new windshield wipers when there’s smoke coming from the car engine and you have two flat tires. When are we going to address the real problems?

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2 Comments

  1. sbrow77983 says:

    Has anyone thought of not letting students drive to and park on school grounds? Seems like it would be harder to get on the bus with a gun or sneak a gun past your parent if they drove their child to school. I know it will never happen.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    @sbrow77983:

    Playing Devil’s advocate for a moment, if you ban kids from parking on campus, who enforces that? If I decide to become a school shooter, whoever is proctoring the parking lot to keep the kids from parking on campus is my first kill. Easy peasy. That proctor actually comes to me. I start scoring before I even get in the door.

    I’ve heard people talk about metal detectors run by a guard. First, that’s going to be a nightmare scenario, as kids are constantly late for first period because they are stuck in line at the front door. Second, let’s again say I am a potential school shooter. Guess who my first victim is going to be if I have to go through a metal detector? Yup the guard running the metal detector is gonna get it.

    Also, what’s to stop me from getting my buddy to open one of the side doors at the school to let me in that way? All the metal detectors and bullet proof glass in the world won’t stop me from gaining entrance.

    I know it’s an unpopular opinion here, but allowing trained staff and teachers to CCW, or to at least have secure lock boxes with firearms in selected classrooms is the best way to go.

    Every other proposal is just too expensive, and I’m paying enough school tax already.

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